Standing in the Ribble Valley countryside, Stanley House Hotel has made for the picture perfect day for brides and grooms since opening its doors more than a decade ago.
But the converted Grade II listed manor house in Mellor, sat in 54 acres of idyllic rural surroundings, is now much more than a wedding destination – it is an award-winning tourist destination.
Today, the leading north west hotel and spa venue caters for corporate guests, daytime diners, dining professionals, romantic couples, families and private parties.
Not forgetting the 100 weddings currently planned for this year.
This, says sales and marketing manager Wendy Hope, is thanks to a vision by owners, the renowned Walker family, supported by a first class staff.
The 80-strong team she says are ‘part of the family’, many are long-term but there is ideal opportunities for employees wanting to make their mark in the tourism industry.
A continuing investment in staff has seen them recruit ‘the very best’ in events management, spa therapy, banqueting and dining services, while a partnership with the University of Central Lancashire offers homegrown talent a chance of key positions at the hotel.
She says:“The Walkers are very passionate about what has been created at Stanley House – we are always looking at ways we deliver the services, investing in our staff, creating opportunities.
“For the family it is all about giving something back to the local area and the investment has been fantastic.
“It’s a bit of a cliche but we are very much part of a big family – it is a pleasure to work here
“From our expansion, to the spa, there is always a new challenge, it’s been an amazing few years and now we are just excited for what is next.”
It is the hotel’s dedication to employing people that provides the perfect guest experience which has made the hotel a leading choice for couples looking to tie the knot.
Wedding co-ordinator Bethany Entwistle, who is also an ambassador for the Ribble Valley Tourism Association, says it is about creating an experience for people the moment they come up the driveway.
“It is just such a beautiful place to come to and hard not to be taken in.
“The location is absolutely stunning. I have a huge passion for tourism and for me it has been a massive opportunity.
“It is my job to do the very best for everyone who comes to visit and build individual relationships with each and everyone of our clients. That’s what I love to do.”
Bethany, who studied at Runshaw College before completing a tourism management degree at UCLan, joined Stanley House earlier this year.
She adds: “I’ve built up some fantastic relationships
“No one client is the same and that is fantastic for me to help create completely different weddings – no day is the same.
“I can be call handling, arranging wedding fairs to guiding clients around to adjusting final details.
“There is a lot of creativity, too, and that means very close relationships with the people I work with, too – lots of joined up thinking!”
Head of banqueting Barry Farley joined Stanley House 18 months ago.
Barry started out working under Paul Heathcote. His work has taken him far and wide, from head chef in leading restaurants to catering at the Grand Prix, Olympics and even cooking for the Queen.
Barry says: “Working at the Olympics was a fantastic experience but very hard work, we worked solidly every day for a month.
“Every day really is a schoolday in the kitchen, always learning and that is one of the most important things for me.
“I’d never worked in a hotel before coming here – I like trialling new things, challenging myself but it is very much a team effort and as much about keeping everyone motivated back of house, too.
“And most importantly creating menus everyone will enjoy.”
Spa manager Sarah Wellfair, originally from Cheltenham, has sailed around the world and managed in one of London’s “showcase” spas before landing in Lancashire.
She says: “Working on cruise liners really does give you a world of experience, there is so much diversity and it really does help you build up confidence and open up a business mind.
“I needed a new challenge and I just love it here.
“People in Lancashire really are so welcoming and it’s so different to what I have done before. But I have the opportunity to put into practice what I do best.
“We’re creating something different – anyone can come here and it’s so important for people to just to step out of their ordinary life for a day, come over the threshold and leave everything else behind.”